Its been a while since I've done a mock draft, and since we're in a bit of a drought with the bye week I figured I'd put one together. You'll notice I have the Steelers at 31 overall, and before you jump on me I did this for two reasons. First, the Packers are actually favored to win the Superbowl, and second, I dont want to jinx anything by assuming we're at 32 lol. As always this is meant to promote discussion, so questions and comments are encouraged.
1. Carolina Panthers: AJ Green WR, Georgia
Green makes sense in a lot of ways for the Panthers: he brings the 8th man out of the box for opposing defenses, he takes coverage away from Steve Smith while also becoming his long term replacement, and perhaps most importantly helps in Jimmy Clausen's development.
2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson CB, LSU
Denver needs help pretty much everywhere on defense. But their secondary is getting old and Peterson is the type of corner you just don't pass up.
3. Buffalo Bills: Nick Fairley DT, Auburn
The Bills will be tempted to take the top QB, but Fitzpatrick earned the right to build on a promising year. Fairley is an absolute beast and depending on what type of defense the Bills decide to run could fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3.
4. Cincinatti Bengals: DaQuan Bowers DE, Clemson
If Palmer actually retires I will honestly die of laughter. The fact that their franchise QB wants to bail speaks volumes of how dysfunctional this franchise is. They would be forced to take the top QB if he does leave, but until he does I have to give them Bowers. Cinci desperately needs a premier pass rusher to complement Carlos Dunlap.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri
6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn DE, North Carolina
The Browns really need elite WR talent, but with Green gone there isn't any worth this pick. Quinn's stock has fallen but should go back up in the workout phase. He's a versatile prospect that should bring the Cleveland defense to the next level.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska
I think the 49ers will target a QB outside the draft, like Vince Young or Donovan McNabb, so they'll look to improve their awful secondary. Amukamara is just a hair below Peterson in terms of athleticism, but he's still an amazing talent at CB who can shut down opposing #1 receivers.
8. Tennessee Titans: Cam Newton QB, Auburn
Jeff Fisher and Vince Young will both be gone in 2011, so the Titans need a new face of the franchise. Chris Johnson is still the pulse of the offense, but Newton will provide a similar rushing threat that VY did, which opens things up for everyone.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Nate Solder OT, Colorado
This looks like a reach right now, but by the time the draft rolls around Solder will be a top 10 pick. Jason Garrett wont want to risk losing Tony Romo for the season again, so improving their awful OL will be a priority. At 6'9", Solder has amazing potential.
10. Washington Redskins: Ryan Mallett QB, Arkansas
The Redskins are actually in a good position here. Its unlikely all four QBs with a first round grade will go in the top 9, so they can sit back and grab the best one available. In this case, they get #3 Ryan Mallett. Skins fans will need to be patient though, as this offense is still a major work in progress.
11. Houston Texans: Von Miller OLB, Texas A&M
I dont really get the switch to the 3-4, as Houston doesn't seem to have anyone who truly fits the scheme. But Miller will bring the outside edge rush while the OL will be worrying about Mario Williams and Brian Cushing.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Marcel Dareus DT, Alabama
The Vikings are one of the QB-needy teams that I think will target a vet rather than draft a young guy. They get lucky with Dareus falling to them here, and he'll replace Pat Williams at DT. He'll thrive while offenses are worrying about Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.
13. Detroit Lions: Tyron Smith OT, USC
The Lions still need a lot of work on defense, and could look at any number of the rest of the defensive prospects, but if they don't upgrade their OL Matt Stafford will be torn to pieces before he can turn their franchise around. Scouts are finally taking notice of Smith, who has everything you look for in an OT prospect except elite bulk. If he adds some weight and performs well in the combine, there's no reason to think he wont be a great LT.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones WR, Alabama
The Rams have to start surrounding Sam Bradford with weapons. Jones played injured a lot this year, so his numbers weren't as good as they could have been. Still he's an elite talent with great size.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram RB, Alabama
I cant say I'm being original here, but the Dolphins have nothing at RB beyond 2010. Getting a Heisman Trophy winner should take pressure off Chad Henne, if they decide to keep him for 2011.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue
The Jags have to put Peyton Manning on his back if they're ever going to beat him, so they need to improve their pass rush. They might also look to draft Rashean Mathis's replacement at CB.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland): Aldon Smith OLB, Missouri
The Pats need serious help in their front 7, and a legit 3-4 pass rushing OLB would be huge for them. Smith will prevent defenses from being able to double team Tully Banta-Cain and improve the pass rush to help out their young and talented secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Jordan DE, California
If the Bolts lose Vincent Jackson they might look at Jonathan Baldwin here to replace him. Baldwin has the size that San Diego loves. But the Chargers also need to improve their DL and Jordan is a local player who is a perfect fit at 3-4 DE.
19. New York Giants: Corey Liuget DT, Illinois
Anyone surprised that the Giants go DL again? Didn't think so. Liuget is building a reputation that puts him just a step behind Fairley and Dareus as DTs this year. He'll bring inside pressure to take attention away from their strong DEs.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandon Harris CB, Miami
The Bucs would love to get a DE to improve their pass rush and round out their young DL, but Harris is too good to pass up here and would make a great tandem with former 1st round pick Aqib Talib. He'll also get to learn from Ronde Barber for a year before replacing him.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh
The Chiefs need work in their front 7 to take their defense to the next level, but their biggest issue is fixing their 30th ranked pass offense. Baldwin will be a good deep threat in the NFL and has amazing size (6'5", 220lbs); he and TE Tony Moeaki will be able to make plays while Dwayne Bowe demands double coverage.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Mike Pouncey G/C, Florida
The Colts are looking for an upgrade on the OL and Pouncey is the best interior lineman of the class. The Colts will have a similar plan for Mike that the Steelers had for his brother Maurkice, he'll play guard until Jeff Saturday retires and then switch to Center. Dont be surprised if he follows Maurkice's footsteps and takes the spot earlier than expected though.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College
The Eagles also need OL help to keep Vick healthy, and Castonzo is much better in pass protection than run blocking. Since they get a lot of yards in the run game unconventionally from Vick, they dont need maulers which means Castonzo fits perfectly. Im just glad we dont have to play this offense next year...
24. New Orleans Saints: Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa
The Saints would love to get Clayborn here because he's a great pass rusher and is also versatile enough to stay on the field in most if not all of DC Gregg William's blitz packages. Williams loves to blitz but having a legit pass rusher like Clayborn allows him not to rely on it as much, and get more creative with them in the process.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker QB, Washington
Matt Hasselbeck will be retiring in the next 2 to 3 years, which is perfect since Locker will need a bit of time before he's ready to start in the nfl. Locker had a bad year but has the potential to be a great QB, having a plan for the future will allow the Hawks to focus on the rest of their defense.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Gabe Carimi RT, Wisconsin
The Ravens are in a good position to take their BPA, at either OT, CB or OLB. Carimi is a perfect fit for a RT to replace Jared Gaither and solidify their OL. If they get Carimi and a legit deep threat at WR, there's no excuse for this offense to stall anymore, provided Joe Flacco takes the next step in his development.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph TE, Notre Dame
The Falcons need to prepare for Tony Gonzalez retiring in the next couple years. Rudolph will learn from one of the best while providing extra support as a #2TE. This should work well for the Falcons because they can use a lot of 2 TE sets, making it impossible for the defense to know if they're going to run with Michael Turner or pass to any of the multiple weapons at receiver.
28. New England Patriots: Torrey Smith WR, Maryland
The Pats could look at Mikel Leshoure to give them a legit running game, or they could look at any of the DL prospects to continue their defensive overhaul. But Smith is a good deep threat that can take the top off the defense. Tom Brady will love to get a new toy.
29. Chicago Bears: Stephen Paea DT, Oregon State
The Bears really need some OL help, but avoid reaching and take Paea. Tommy Harris's play has dropped off significantly this year and the Bears could use an inside presence to take attention away from Julius Peppers.
30. New York Jets: Akeem Ayers OLB, UCLA
The Jets, like the Saints, rely heavily on the blitz to get after the QB. Getting a pass rusher who can get things done by himself will let Rex Ryan play a bit more coverage, which is something that worked well against Tom Brady in the playoffs.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams CB, Texas
The Steelers have much bigger needs along the OL, but the talent doesn't match at this pick. I'd love for them to trade up to get Mike Pouncey or Anthony Castonzo, because a premier RG or LT would make this line much more consistent. Williams can hold up in man coverage and has the type of ball skills that QBs wont want to pick on. If Williams can shut down opposing #1 receivers and provide a threat to get turnovers (something Ike Taylor has never done) it will open even more things up for Troy Polamalu to free-lance.
32. Green Bay Packers: JJ Watt DE, Wisconsin
The Pack hit a home run with BJ Raji at NT, but they still need some help on the DL. Watt should thrive as a 3-4 DE and will eat up blockers for Clay Matthews to make plays.